Like everyone else, healthy or chronically ill, I have had my share of both good and bad doctors. I even have a few that have been exceptional. But it doesn't matter how long you have been sick, or how many good experiences you have had, it is still nerve wracking to have to start with a new doctor. This can happen for a variety of reasons; you move, your healthcare plan changes providers on you, your doctor retires, or your relationship with your doctor is shattered due to something out of your control to fix. Whatever the reason, it puts you back to a place that feels emotionally vulnerable.
I moved from state to state almost a year ago. In that time I had a lot of things going on with my health status that needed to be addressed. Not having the energy, physical or emotional, to tackle them all at once, I started with one problem and worked my way through. Doing this required meeting with new specialists of many kinds. Some of the doctors were a great fit right away, some required a little tweaking of the relationship to make things work for both of us, and some weren't right for me, causing me to start back at step one until I found the right doctor in that particular speciality.
Today I had a first meeting with a new gastroenterologist. I felt all the old anxiety creep back in. Would he be knowledgeable about my condition? Compassionate? Understanding of how all my other illnesses interrelate? Would he believe in me and work with me to help me to live my life as fully as I want to? Would he work well with the other team of doctors I have already assembled? I had an actual knot in my stomach as I drove to the appointment this afternoon. It takes so much physical, mental and spiritual energy to go through everything from the beginning and to try to assess in one meeting if this will be a successful relationship. I certainly have had my share of bad experiences, and they always leave me feeling drained, spent and frustrated.
I had the pleasant experience of having dreaded this appointment today for nothing. The doctor I met with was on time, professional, compassionate, thorough and wanted not only my input, but that of my other team members as well. Although I am grateful for the positive experience, I am all too aware of all the times this has not been the outcome. In a system that requires doctors to see ever more patients in a day, and a host of problems that require time and attention, you are bound to have conflict. So I guess I feel I dodged a bullet today, but there are still several specialists I need to find, and I can't shake the feeling that, based on prior experience, they won't all go as smoothly as today. That being said, I am thankful to have one more good doctor and life affirming experience in my saga!